WASHINGTON (AP) -- Honoring those who served in the wars of yesteryear, President Bush said Monday he will lead America into a new battle if necessary to disarm Iraq. "This great nation will not live at the mercy of any foreign plot or power," he said.
At Arlington National Cemetery, the hallowed burial ground of military heroes situated on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River, Bush said today's military serves "on the scattered battlefields of a new kind of war," in Afghanistan and beyond.
"That mission will go on until the terrorists who struck America are fully and finally defeated," he said.
"This new kind of war also requires us to confront outlaw regimes that seek and possess the tools of mass murder," Bush said. "We will not permit a dictator who's used weapons of mass destruction to threaten America with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons," the president said.
"The dictator of Iraq will fully disarm, or the United States of America will lead a coalition and disarm him," the president said, drawing a long applause.
Underscoring the threat, senior administration officials said that Bush has approved tentative Pentagon plans for invading Iraq should a new U.N. arms inspection effort fail. The strategy calls for a land, sea and air force of 200,000 to 250,000 troops, officials said.
Bush, who began his day with rain-soaked pre-dawn visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, called on new generations of warriors to draw inspiration from those who served -- and in many cases, died -- before.
"Especially in this time of war, we see in our veterans an example of courage and selfless sacrifice and service that inspires a new generation and will lead this country to victory," he told an East Room assembly after his early-morning visit to the black-granite memorial.
America remembers today those killed on Sept. 11, 2001, he said, reaffirming his doctrine of making war with terror networks and, if necessary, ridding the Iraqi regime of its "weapons of mass murder."
"The time to confront this threat is before it arrives, not the day after," he said, calling this "an urgent task for America and the world."
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